Sea Lions take on Ivy League Championships


Ava Lipsky, Staff Writer

Girls and Boys Varsity Swim made a splash at the Ivy League Preliminaries and Finals this Monday through Wednesday. Both teams came in third place at their preliminaries and won third place overall at the finals, while Rose Korff (10) became the League Champion in the 100 butterfly and James Ho (11) broke the school record in the 100 breaststroke.

Except for Collegiate, all the Ivy Preparatory League schools competed, including Trinity, Dalton, Poly Prep, Hackley, Dalton, Fieldston, and Riverdale. 35 students from HM competed in the tournament’s eight individual and three relay races: 100 meters in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly; 200 and 500 meters in freestyle; and the 200 meter individual medley (IM), which is 50 meters of each stroke. The relays include the 200 meter medley, 200 free, and the 400 free. Each swimmer can swim two individual races and two relays, Varsity Swimming Coach Michael Duffy said. Two points are awarded for each individual win, which are then added to the team’s total.

With multiple top 16 finishes, all Girls Varsity Swim members competed. Team members either placed in the A or B heat for at least one of their events so they were all able to swim the event at finals, Kyra Stinebaugh (10) said.

A special moment in the competition was when Rose Korff (10) took first place in the 100 yard fly, meaning she would be seeded first for the finals, co-captain Emma Chan (12) said. 

Chan placed eighth in the 50 freestyle and sixth in the 100 backstroke. “While swimming, most of my thoughts are focused on how much my body hurts — and how the faster I swim, the sooner it will be over,” she said.

Jojo Mignone (11) qualified for the finals in 200 freestyle and 100 breaststroke, setting a new personal record during the 100 breaststroke. Breaststroke was the last event of the meet, so Mignone could hear and see everyone cheering for her. “It pushed me to go faster,” she said. “Whether or not people were happy with their results, everyone was cheering for each other and staying very present throughout the whole meet.”

With three loud arfs and 13 claps, the team begins their cheer that they do before every meet, Isha Krishnamurthy (12) said. Following the claps, the team shouts “we are number one, we can’t be number two, so come on everybody do the HM bongolo,” she said. “The cheer ends with back and forth arfs and “go sea lions.” 

The team lost a lot of strong swimmers last year which made them slightly unsure of how they would perform this year, Krishnamurthy said. However, everyone on the team worked hard and swam well. “The team has been doing amazing and we have a great time together,” she said.

At the Boys Varsity Swim preliminaries, it was exciting to see James Ho (11) swim ahead of the pack, Aidan Frank (11) said. “It was also motivating to see Dylan Montbach going all out in his first event and leaving everything in the pool.”

Frank swam the 50 free and hoped to break his record in order to qualify for the finals — he did qualify, but could not lower his time because a competitor in the next lane hit him during his flip turn. “All that was going through my head was to beat the kid next to me and get sub 25 seconds,” Frank said.

The Wednesday finals started off with a ceremony for the seniors. “It’s my last meet because I’m a senior so I just want to do the best I can,” Ben Wu (12), who swam the 100 backstroke and 200 IM, said.

The swimmers trained hard to race their fastest at the Ivys, Duffy said. “Team members swim a mile and a half to two miles every day of distance events, sprint events, and different strokes.” Practices taper down by the season’s end since it becomes hard on the swimmers’ muscles, so they focus more on sprints.

Practice paid off in the Ivys as the swimmers’ times reflected their hard work, Mignone said. “People will be even more motivated next year to train hard at practice and remember that what you put in is what you get out of the sport and the team.”

The Championship Meet is the highlight of the season, Aquatics Director and Girls Swim Team Coach Thatcher Woodley said. It’s both the culmination of the team’s training over the season and preparation for the final NYSAIS meet of the year.

The Ivys are super valuable for team members, Chan said. “Especially for freshmen and people who weren’t on the swim team last year, Ivys helps you get familiar with the set-up of a big meet.” During the regular season, the team usually only has dual meets with one heat per event. For NYSAIS and Ivys, there are more teams and more heats, she said.

Ivys prepares swimmers for how to manage stress at more competitive meets, Stinebaugh said. “The tournament helps the team learn how to deal with the pre-race nerves and learn how they can be nervous, excited, scared, or whatever emotion they are feeling and still be confident in themselves and perform well.”